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P-47 pilot Lt. August DeGenaro


24th_infantry

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24th_infantry

This is one of the many stories I was told by Lt. August DeGenaro, P-47 pilot. He lived down the road from me in Branford, CT before his passing in March 2007.

 

Lt. August DeGenaro enlisted in the AAF in January 1942. He was based out of England with the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group. On July 14, 1943 DeGenaro became engaged with 3 FW-190s over the English Channel. He was able to shoot down one of the planes but his P-47 was heavily shot up and most of his gages were destroyed. During the fight Lt. DeGenaro was received shrapnel in his arms and legs. He now faced the task of bailing out of his plane into the channel but he risked his unmanned plane crashing into an English town. Experiencing extreme agony DeGenaro turned his plane around using his elbows. With the town out of danger he was able to bail out. He safely landed in the channel and passed out. While floating there he was picked up by an English fishing vessel nicknamed “Little Old Lady”. They brought his back to Newhaven, England (ironically he lived in New Haven, CT and would always laugh when he told this part of the story).

 

He spent a number of weeks recouping from his injuries and was later sent back to the states. He was awarded the DFC and Purple Heart for his heroics and injuries. An English museum currently has the prop of his plane displayed and he is considered a hero to many in England for turning his plane around and possibly saving lives of innocent civilians.

 

 

More of his stories will be posted later in the week.

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I checked the 78th Fighter Group History and it mentions the incident. He apparently had to move the stick with his forearms due to his injuries. The ship crew got to him fast to save him from drowning as he could not undo his chute harness. Got the DSC for the action.

 

Sounds like a heckuva man. Glad you got to know him.

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